Professor Zamora recipient of 2010 prize for his book on Mexican workers
Tue, February 2, 2010
Emilio Zamora with a detail from his award-winning book
The award for “the best book on Texas” recognizes Zamora’s publication, Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas; Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II (Texas A&M University Press, 2009). It is the first book-length study that joins diplomatic, Mexican American, and Texas history to examine home-front experiences in the United States.
The publication casts a wide net over the wartime economy, New Deal policies, the official and popular language of justice and democracy, the deleterious effect of discrimination on recovery from the Depression, Mexico’s interventionist policies on behalf of Mexicans in the United States, and the State Department’s decision to bring the Good Neighbor Policy home as an anti-discrimination initiative in social and labor relations.
Zamora brings focus to his study with the overarching argument that wartime concerns in Mexico-U.S. relations raised the issue of race to a hemispheric level of importance and encouraged Mexican workers to continue their call for equal rights. As race morphed into an international issue, Mexico singled out Texas as the most important site for implementing the promise of non-discrimination in the State Department's Good Neighbor Policy and the President’s executive orders 8802 and 9346.
The increased diplomatic cooperation that promoted good will and improved understanding in diplomatic and ethnic relations also provided the impetus for the League of United Latin American Citizens to emerge as one of the leading proponents of equal rights in the United States.
Despite the persistence of racial discrimination and inequality, the unprecedented attention that Washington, D.C. directed at Mexico and the Mexican community in the United States raised postwar expectations for better relations and encouraged further official activism and Mexican agitation for equal rights.
Zamora’s Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs will remain relevant to scholars and policy makers in the present as questions about immigrant labor, Mexican Americans, Mexico-U.S. relations, and discrimination continue to draw our attention.
According to Zamora, the book prize has special meaning because it is named after Professor Horton Tullis. She was the TSHA's treasurer and corresponding secretary during a 40-year tenure in the organization. She was also a member of the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin for 35 years starting in 1924 when few women worked as faculty on campus.
Zamora added that the recognition from the TSHA is also important because the organization has a special historical relationship with the Department of History at the university. George P. Garrison, the first chair of the department in March 1897, was a founding member of the TSHA. The building that the department calls home is named after him.
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